Finding my brand style through Animal Crossing

Fandom can be your first clues to find your brand style

Man-Ping Wu
5 min readJan 8, 2021

Like many creatives, finding a personal brand style is a daunting task, because everyone wants to stand out with their unique perspective. Not sure what to do? Your personal fandom favorites may lead you to some insight as the first step. I stumbled upon my unconventional method while playing Animal Crossing New Horizons.

Call me crazy. Why would a game about building a town, asking cute animals to be your neighbour and paying back your debt to a tanuki, help you find your personal style? The Animal Crossing’s customization feature and the community’s spread of their island designs are a reflection of it.

Unique Animal Crossing island styles

Many Animal Crossing players’ islands have unique styles like traditional Japanese, cyberpunk, Ghibli-inspired or cottagecore. Players spend hours in the game and sharing their island online becomes their source of pride. Seeing these islands made me wonder if I spent enough hours terraforming and customizing my island, how will it turn out?

Home design by mixing and matching with available DIY’s and items

I was fortunate to spend many (400+) hours playing Animal Crossing due to quarantine and built my island by terraforming and buying accessible items. In addition I strategically cataloged certain items from other players, as I don’t have 500 nook mile tickets at my disposal.

Island design by mixing and matching

I completed my island with a combination of cottagecore and Japanese styles. It was unconventional but I really like it. Later I realized my island was a reflection of me! It struck me how I always liked mixing different styles like the dreaminess of shojo anime and edginess of cyberpunk from action-based video games essentially mixing the polar opposites and creating the unexpected. This part of myself was applied to the design and development of my portfolio. The contrasting nature of black and white with soft dreamy gradients and playful elements. I continued by looking into Pinterest and analyzing professional portfolios, trying to find common patterns.

Find your personal brand style from your favorite fandoms using these different methods:

A fan object’s aesthetics

Bright colors with dark subjects, symmetrical shots and nostalgic vintage props sum up Wes Anderson’s visual styles throughout his movies. Think of it like an Easter egg hunt. Picking up patterns of repeated style traits throughout many of a fan object’s works. Follow up by taking a certain trait and apply it to yours.

Wes Anderson movie’s color palette

Official merchandise in different regions

Big fandoms like Disney and Pokemon have different regional markets throughout the world, but their merchandise and styles differ from one another. The Pokemon U.S market focuses more on bold graphics related to the original Pokemon anime, whereas the Pokemon Japan market has various options with experimental bold graphics and some illustrative dreamy cute styles with newer and non-conventional Pokemon favorites. Seeing the unconventional stylized merchandise brings lots of excitement -if it brings you excitement, ask yourself and analyse, why does it get you excited?

Japan Official Pokemon illustration and merchandise from Pokemon Center
U.S Official Pokemon Merchandise from Hot Topic

Related content on Pinterest.

Looking into Pinterest with keywords related to your fan object can bring up some interesting ideas or lead to new discoveries from the pairings and related images. Type in “It’s a small world illustrations” and you will discover the style and illustration of Mary Blair.

Finding the Mary Blair from “It’s a Small World Illustration” search

Remember, finding a personal style is a journey and looking into your fandom can help you find clues on what you like about it. It’s all about finding the common pattern, taking certain traits and creating iterations. It’s a process and don’t be afraid to switch it up and give it a twist. Don’t forget you can always command Z if you don’t like it. If you ended up creating a Mary Blair style with blackletter and a Wes Anderson color palette, you already caught my attention.